Project Case Study
Promoting innovation and growth in business through mentoring: FORSA
Supporting small and medium enterprise development in Arab countries
The Arab Spring protests were triggered and fuelled by a variety of different factors, but chief among these was the unfulfilled economic promise of the region. Local people suffered from high inflation, low salary growth, unemployment and high and increasing inequality.
The rise in youth unemployment hit people particularly hard, greeting increasingly educated and capable young people as they emerged from schools and universities.
In 2011, the G8 leaders made a declaration on the Arab Spring at Deauville, confirming their support for the region’s goals for the future. These were twofold: to find a political process to support democratic transition and foster governance reforms, and an economic framework for sustainable and inclusive growth – and thus the Deauville Partnership was born.
In 2013, the UK took over the G8 presidency and responsibility for the Partnership. One of its flagship activities during 2013 and into 2014 has been its mentoring initiative for small and medium enterprises, which has since been renamed ‘Forsa’ (an Arabic word meaning ‘opportunity’) by our team and our partners. Forsa operates in all six of the Deauville Partnership focus countries: Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen.
Forsa’s central aim is to support new entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa region by providing them with mentors who can provide guidance and expertise to help their businesses grow. The project aims to provide 12 months of mentoring support for a minimum of 250 entrepreneurs across the six countries starting at a series of workshops between May and November 2013.
The entrepreneurs taking part in the scheme are expected to benefit from an average of 2-3 new jobs within the first year and failure rates of their enterprises are likely to dramatically reduce.
This is the first mentoring programme in many of the target countries, and the experience of implementing programmes in each will help the programme develop. As such, it intends to sustain progress by promoting the use of mentoring as a development tool for small and medium enterprises. Our team is working with governments in the region to build a mentoring toolkit which government bodies and the private and charitable sectors can use as the central repository of knowledge on mentoring and on how to implement such programmes, hugely enhancing impact.
Early indications have been positive, with the team encountering a positive response in all six of the target countries, and many different stakeholders are interested in what is being implemented.